A type of bacterium called Coxiella Burnetii is primarily responsible for Q fever infections. The infection is related to direct or indirect contact with animals such as sheep, cattle or goats. The bacteria pass into the milk, urine or faeces of animals while birthing or feeding. Additionally, many organisms are ejected in the form of birth products. These organisms can survive for long hours in the environment.

Hence, Q fever vaccinations in Toowoomba are pretty widespread, owing to the ease of spread of the disease. For example, infection in humans usually occurs through inhalation of the bacteria in the air carrying dust contaminated by birth fluids, dried placental material and urine or faeces of infected herd animals. Although Q fever is the occupational disease of meat workers, veterinarians and farmers, people living downwind, in a 1-km radius, are also at an increased risk of infection.

What are the signs and symptoms you need to be aware of?

  • Sweats and chills
  • Fever, which may last up to 4 weeks
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue – and prolonged fatigue (post Q fever fatigue syndrome) may follow infection
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dry cough
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Chest pain while breathing

Certain people may develop a chronic case of Q fever after exposure to certain conditions. The incubation period could even be a few weeks (up to 6 weeks) before the first symptoms are seen. Those at risk include:

  • Those with underlying heart abnormalities
  • Cancer patients
  • Transplant recipients
  • Those with chronic kidney disease


The vaccine for Q fever can only be given to individuals at least 15 years of age. An existing vaccine in Australia is reported to have 83-100% effectiveness. Before immunisations, a few tests are conducted—blood and skin test—to check the history of illness, either naturally or by previous vaccination. Vaccinating those already affected by Q fever could lead to some severe consequences. Vaccination will not prevent disease in someone already infected. This being said, the following people are mainly recommended for immunisation:

  • Stockyard workers, farmers and livestock transporters
  • Wildlife and zoo workers are exposed to high-risk animals, and agricultural college staff and students
  • Veterinarians, students and nurses
  • Shearers and wool sorters
  • Abattoir workers and contract workers in cattle, goat and sheep abattoirs
  • Others, who are exposed to camels, goats, sheep, cattle, kangaroos and their products
  • Tanning and hide workers and laboratory personnel, handling veterinary products or working with the organism, and professional dog and cat breeders

The immunisations needed are decided by the acronym HALO—Health, Age, Lifestyle, and Occupation.

  • Health: Some health conditions or factors expose you to certain conditions and make you susceptible to certain preventable diseases.
  • Age: Different ages need protection from different vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Lifestyle: It has been noticed that lifestyle choices can have an impact on your immunisation needs.
  • Occupation: People are likely to require additional or more frequent immunisations if they work in a particular field that exposes them to vaccine-preventable diseases or puts them into contact with those who are definitely more susceptible to problems from vaccine-preventable diseases.

At Drayton Medical, we take immense care in ensuring our patients are well looked after and receive the proper immunisations and protections at the right time. In addition, our physicians and health professionals make sure that our patients are well educated about the different medical procedures that they should take care of at the right time.